Psychosocial health of living kidney donors: A systematic review

K. K. Clemens, H. Thiessen-Philbrook, C. R. Parikh, R. C. Yang, M. L. Karley, N. Boudville, G. V. Ramesh Prasad, A. X. Garg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the psychosocial benefits and harms faced by living kidney donors is necessary for informed consent and follow-up. We reviewed any English language study where psychosocial function was assessed using questionnaires in 10 or more donors after nephrectomy. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Psych INFO, Sociological Abstracts and CINAHL databases and reviewed reference lists from 1969 through July 2006. Independently, two reviewers abstracted data on study, donor and control group characteristics, psychosocial measurements and their outcomes. Fifty-one studies examined 5139 donors who were assessed an average of 4 years after nephrectomy. The majority experienced no depression (77-95%) or anxiety (86-94%), with questionnaire scores similar to controls. The majority reported no change or an improved relationship with their recipient (86-100%), spouse (82-98%), family members (83-100%) and nonrecipient children (95-100%). Some experienced an increase in self-esteem. A majority (83-93%) expressed no change in their attractiveness. Although many scored high on quality of life measures, some prospective studies described a decrease after donation. A small proportion of donors had adverse psychosocial outcomes. Most kidney donors experience no change or an improvement in their psychosocial health after donation. Harms may be minimized through careful selection and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2965-2977
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Living kidney donors
  • Quality of life
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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